The journey of overcoming stuttering is multifaceted and complex. One of the critical stages in this journey is learning to stop thinking and fearing words. While achieving fluency is undoubtedly a significant goal, it often hinges on the ability to free oneself from the shackles of constant word-thinking and the fear of speech. In this extensive blog, we will delve into the importance of breaking free from word-thinking, the stages involved, and the essential crutches that aid in achieving this transformative milestone.
The Subconscious Mastery of Fluent Speech
Fluent speakers effortlessly rely on their minds to generate words during conversation. They allow their brains to select words in real-time as they speak, without the need for conscious planning. This natural, subconscious mastery of word selection is what separates them from those who stutter. For individuals dealing with speech impediments, achieving this level of fluency can seem like a distant dream.
The Last Hurdle in the Journey to Fluency
Ironically, the ability to stop thinking and fearing words is often the final hurdle in the journey to fluency. It’s a skill that typically comes after individuals have already achieved Partially Worrying Stutterers (PWSS) status. For many, this process takes time, as it involves a significant shift in mindset and speech patterns.
My Personal Experience: Ten Years to Overcome Word-Thinking
In my personal journey to fluency, it took me ten years to overcome word-thinking and reach the point where I could speak without constantly planning my words. Looking back, I realized that I could have accomplished this feat in just one year if I had known then what I know now. This highlights the importance of guidance and understanding the steps involved in this process.
The Role of Bad Speech Incidents
To stop thinking and fearing words, the first critical step is to cease having bad incidents during speech. Bad incidents can be defined as any instance where speech appears unquestionably speech-disabled to a fluent speaker. The process of overcoming bad incidents encompasses a series of actions outlined in my book. These actions are pivotal in the journey to fluency, as they help individuals learn how to avoid bad incidents.
The Path to Word Freedom: The Twelve Crutches
Once bad incidents are no longer a recurring part of the journey, the path to word freedom can begin. The transition from word-thinking to word freedom is facilitated by mastering the Twelve Crutches (C1-C12). These Crutches represent essential steps in the process, gradually building the foundation for speaking without thinking words. To explore the detailed insights and strategies regarding the Twelve Crutches and the journey to overcome stuttering, readers can delve into Lee Lovett’s comprehensive guide, “How to Stop Stuttering and Love Speaking” or “Stop Stuttering Short Course: How to Break the Stuttering Code.”
C1-C8: Mastering Fixed Words
The first eight Crutches, collectively referred to as C1-C8, focus on mastering the ability to speak fixed words with confidence. This involves practicing and gaining proficiency in saying words without hesitation, particularly words that often trigger stuttering, like our own names.
C9-C10: Conversation Crutches
The next stage, C9-C10, introduces Conversation Crutches. These crutches are specifically designed to address conversational speech. They encompass strategies such as talking less, linking words, and even humming as aids to maintain fluent speech under pressure.
C11: Speaking Like a King/Queen
C11, known as “Speaking like a King/Queen,” is the crutch that takes direct aim at word-thinking. It encourages individuals to speak without consciously planning words and to focus on the broader picture of effective communication.
C12: The End Game – Speaking Without Thinking Words
C12 represents the End Game – the ability to speak without thinking words consciously. This stage is the ultimate goal for many individuals seeking fluency. It involves learning to let go of the constant internal word planning and replacing it with alternative thoughts that serve as a barrier to word-thinking.
The Power of Shifting Focus
To stop thinking words, it is essential to replace the habit of word-thinking with alternative thoughts. There is no one-size-fits-all solution; individuals can experiment with various techniques. Some find success in thinking about extreme pronunciation, while others focus on speaking slowly and linking words. For many, thinking about speaking passionately or merely wearing a smile as they speak can help in blocking word-thinking.
Overcoming Fear and Expanding Comfort Zones
The ability to stop thinking words is closely linked to overcoming fear, a significant aspect of the stuttering journey. One key strategy is to continually expand comfort zones and become comfortable in all speech situations. While some PWSS may have the opportunity to avoid speaking in high-pressure situations, it is essential to encourage them to broaden their comfort zones. Achieving comfort in all situations is possible and can lead to lasting fluency.
The journey to stop thinking and fearing words is a pivotal stage in overcoming stuttering. It marks the transition from Partially Worrying Stutterers (PWSS) to fully fluent speakers. The process begins by ceasing to have bad incidents, then mastering the Twelve Crutches, and ultimately achieving the ability to speak without constant word-thinking. Each stage in this journey is significant, and patience, practice, and guidance are vital components.
Learning to let go of the habit of word-thinking requires individuals to shift their focus and plant alternative thoughts during speech. Overcoming fear and expanding comfort zones are also integral aspects of this transformation. While the path may be challenging, achieving word freedom and fluency is possible for all individuals seeking to overcome stuttering.